The threat of sequestration, automatic across-the-board budget cuts, is a major factor propelling the federal government and the nation towards the fiscal cliff in what some are calling a “Fedageddon” free fall to the bottom.
If implemented, the country would see $109.3 billion in automatic budget cuts in FY13, split evenly between defense and non-defense spending.
Federal programs that are lifelines to many counties such as the FEMA State and Local Disaster Preparedness and Recovery programs, FEMA Disaster Relief and HUD Homeless Assistance would be cut 8.2 percent.
Other lifeline programs such as payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) and the HHS Prevention and Public Health Fund stand to take a 7.6 percent hit. Programs helping counties pursue economic development and jobs for their communities like HUD’s CDBG and USDA’s Rural Development programs or the Department of Labor’s Title I Workforce Investment Act Formula grants also face significant reductions.
Why sequestration? Simple. The deal struck in 2011 to increase the nation’s debt ceiling — the Budget Control Act — included directions to find $1.5 trillion in budget savings over 10 years. If the members of the Joint Select Committee on Budget Reduction — the Super Committee —were unable to agree on a path to achieve the reduction, then the law required across-the-board-cuts that would. House and Senate leaders believed such a draconian measure would spur the committee and Congress to reach an agreement. They didn’t, and 18 months later Fedageddon looms.
NACo believes that any solution to the nation’s fiscal ills must be balanced. Both defense and domestic spending should be considered in any negotiations over deficit reduction.
Its position is well articulated in a just-released PowerPoint presentation, Federal Budget Sequestration 101: Perspectives through the County Lens.
Produced by a NACo team of senior lobbyists, the 30-screen PowerPoint covers the federal debt and deficit picture; explores the road to sequestration; explains how sequestration would impact the federal budget, especially programs that benefit counties — and how the sequestration process would work.
“We wanted to provide our state association partners and our county members with a clear, succinct, easy-to-follow document that articulates the issues facing county governments in the face of sequestration,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase.
As the presentation stresses, the Nov. 6 election and expected lame duck session of Congress will prove critical in determining whether sequestration is implemented or avoided. Several scenarios address how sequestration might be avoided and how county leaders can get involved to influence the outcome.
To download your copy of the Federal Budget Sequestration 101: Perspectives through the County Lens, visit NACo’s website at www.naco.org. Please note: You can edit or brand the presentation and tailor it to your needs.